Documentation, Survey, and Evaluation

The Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) has research and public service programs grounded in the survey and documentation of historic properties and landscapes. The definition of projects of documentation includes cultural resource surveys, National Register nominations, and historic zoning overlay reports -- any activity that documents an historic resource through graphic, photograhic, and narrative forms.

In itself a form of preservation, documentation through drawings, photographs, and archival research is the first step in any planning or research project. Documentation projects also provide professional training for preservation graduate students while creating a cumulative record of changing architectural and cultural landscapes.

Documentation and survey projects are managed within CHAD by the Mid-Atlantic Historic Buildings and Landscape Survey (MAHBLS). Once projects are completed, they are archived in the CHAD Collection. MAHBLS procedures ensure uniformity of methodology between projects, and several small projects can be cominbed to allow graduate students to work in teams over several projects. CHAD has documented more than 3,000 properties throughout the Delaware Valley including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

In order to be affordable to a variety of clients, CHAD combines traditional field measurement and notes with computer applications such as AutoCAD. CHAD has acquired an excellent reputation for teaching students advanced professional skills in contemporary documentation methods. CHAD's students are among the nation's best prepared for work in cultural resources management and architectural fieldwork and documentation.

Examples of recent projects include two Cultural Resource Surveys. One was in Cape May Point, New Jersey, a coastal resort community wanting to protect the character of their historic cottages against the strong development pressures to tear down and rebuild at higher densities. A second was an African-American neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, in poor physical condition with serious drug and social problems that wanted to use historic preservation as a part of a revitalization strategy. At a larger state-wide scale, CHAD conducted an evaluation of the historic significance of farms that had become part of the Delaware Aglands Preservation Program.

CHAD maintains an extensive collection of research and documentary materials for more than 1,000 historic sites and structures in the Mid-Atlantic region. The collection includes measured drawings, photographs, and narrative histories, as well as other resources for building research, and a study collection of architectural materials. The collection is open, by appointment, for research and reference to students, the preservation community, and the general public.

Read About Example Documentation Projects

Maryland's African-American Architectural Resources